If Jack and Jill go up the hill to fetch a pail of water all the time, what do they do when they have had enough water and want a break? Or in my scenario, if I go outside from Monday – Sunday every week for work and pleasure what do I do for a holiday? Where do I even go on a holiday when I live in a town people come to a holiday for? I go to the place people come from when on their holidays in the Flinders Ranges…the city! The big smoke! The place of the hustle and bustle! And what city has the best combination of hustle, bustle, smoke, and sport… Melbourne!
Having a holiday in Melbourne is something I’ve looked forward to for almost a year. I’d been wanting to see some live sport and re-connect with memories of living in Vermont South where I went to primary school. I also felt like I hadn’t had a good decent break from thinking about Quorn life, work life or outdoor life since about July last year so my brain was geared towards getting a hard wire reset during a few days in Melbourne. Even on a holiday I like to have a Plan of Attack and here were the top four items:
- Watch the ANZAC Day match between Essendon v Collingwood
- Eat and drink whatever food or liquid I felt like at whatever time. All discipline around nutrition was to be suspended.
- See the sights of the CBD from a tourist perspective.
- Drive around the ‘burbs to get a feel for what it’d be like to live as a Melbournian.
ANZAC Day is the second biggest football match of the year for the AFL (behind the Grand Final). Being an Essendon fan, I’m very lucky to be able to watch it knowing my team is involved. However, the Dons haven’t fared too well this year so I didn’t put any pressure on a win to ensure I had a good experience. I tried to fully soak up the atmosphere of the day. Catching the train in to Richmond Station and hopping off one of several different train lines worth of people, all dressed in red, black and white colours was box one ticked for the day. In an interesting way, the alighting of several thousand people off the train and heading to the MCG to watch the footy is one of the only instances someone alive today can get a sense as to what it would’ve been like to land at Anzac Cove with 16,000 people in 1915. Heading through the parklands slightly uphill to the ‘G I began to really appreciate the colossus that the stadium is. I’d been here a few times already. Even seen an ANZAC Day match in 2018. But seeing it all for the first time since Covid on a beautiful autumn day is something special even if you go there every day. As the ground filled up with people the noise builds. Then, apart from a couple of babies, the noise stops for the commemorative services. The catafalque party due their duties and we all do ours by pausing to reflect on the services of the ANZACS. Now it’s time for the Bombers and the Pies to do their duty and put on a good match. No-one wants a ten goal thrashing or a low scoring affair.
Obliging nicely, the fellas put on a goal for goal spectacle that ticks box number two nicely. I even enjoyed ticking box three-eight with several beers…on a Monday! Unsurprisingly to some, the Bombers lost the match but to show how much I enjoyed the experience I didn’t really care, it was just good to be on holidays in Melbourne!
We’re up to box nine for the trip now, and while I’m slowly working my way through lots of food and drink goodies I’m up to the third item of my Melbourne adventure, exploring the CBD. My strategy here was to catch the train in, hit a few hotspots as attack points (Fed square, Botanic Gardens, NGV, Little Bourke Street, Southbank) and follow my nose along the way. I was joined for the day by a friend from primary school who provided some info on whatever everyone I used to know has been up to and was also good company. Straight off the bat, we were off at Flinders Street, into Fed Square and then rolled through the Botanic Gardens. It was cool to see the fastest lap times of the Tan sign but no Olympians were sighted. The Shrine of Remembrance popped it’s head up and that was bonus one for the day. That thing is huge! Being made out of stone, we reckoned the pyramid people would’ve been contracted for helping put it together.
Rolling on though, the NGV had some funky architecture of it’s own which was cool and there was a buzz outside the precinct which is always nice for a bit of a vibe. A quick lap through Degraves Street, the real business sector of the CBD and then some hidden laneways was all on the menu before we were looking at a menu for lunch. Ensuring item number two of the Plan was not forgotten I had a burger. I continued the mission solo from here, heading to Little Bourke to investigate the outdoor shops of Melbourne. Cool shops, not enough stock though in telemark ski gear but maybe I was too specific in my request for that stuff. Picked the mood back up with a croissant and a coffee and if I didn’t know I was in Melbourne I was reminded of it when the lady serving me didn’t just ask what type of coffee I wanted but what bean I was after too. I had no clue so pointed to the Ethiopian one hoping that maybe if I drink some Ethiopian coffee I’ll run as fast as them. I was heading into the home stretch of my day in the city by now. That time of day where the city filth and grime is starting to really get to you. I wandered down to Southbank and was impressed by the appearance of the skyline of Melbourne. The old and the new looked good in the one view. Top highlight was a building called the Collins Arch. It’s one skyscraper that is literally an arch. Old mate who designed that, and convinced people to build it, was definitely thinking outside the box with that one. Kudos to them though, I was impressed.
I looped around to Flinders Street, got on the right train and enjoyed a brief chat with an interesting city worker on my way home. Ten minutes of chatting with her and she leaves me with a ‘be a good person, don’t expect anything in return and good things will come to you’ style message that actually felt authentic. And that was the best way to finish my day in the city I think. I went in, had a rough plan, didn’t expect much and came out feeling like a winner.
That only left one more item of the plan to tick off. I’ve lost count on how many other boxes I’ve ticked but having dinner with long-time family friends, getting some planning done for the future and going for a few runs were also some other minor activities I’d gotten up to in my few days in Melbourne. But the focus was on the last item, driving around the ‘burbs. Down Burwood Highway, up Scoresby road, stopping at lights, seeing multiple shopping centres within 10 minutes of driving (not just one like in Adelaide). The dump, the footy and tennis places I used to play at, the schools I went to. They were all still there. Everything was a lot closer too, although, my memory of travel time was based off how long it was to ride my bike there and my car does travel a bit quicker. Having enjoyed some nostalgic memories I slowly realised that living in Melbourne, specifically the Vermont area, would kind of suck for my lifestyle right now. There are hardly any gum trees, everything is densely packed in and there is no easy 10km running loop on a fire track. That was the hidden bonus of the day, realising that Quorn life is where it’s at for me and not to take it for granted. The same can be applied for the whole way of city life. Catching the train in for work, watching the footy, going to cafes is nice for a holiday but if I had to do it every day as a Melbournian I just don’t see how I could fit in what I want to do with my life which is to improve myself as an outdoor athlete and go on adventures.
You know you’ve had a good holiday when you’re starting to think of back home and for me that was where my head was at as I enjoyed the final meal with family friends. I was keen to get home to Quorn, embrace the next challenge in my year and get back into all my routines. Did I enjoy my holiday? Yes. I ticked most of the boxes I wanted, hit every item of the Plan of Attack and left Melbourne and the great state of Victoria feeling refreshed and ready. Would I go again? Yes. But not within the next few months. I’d been in go-go mode since July 2021 till April 2022 before I had this holiday. I’ve gotta build up some ‘annual leave’ in my work schedule I guess too. And there’s also the case of Jack and Jill to remember. All play and no work (fetching pails of water of course) makes Jack a very dull boy, and I’m guessing Jill a dull girl… and we can’t be having that!
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